Swaroop C H

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Cycling To Work at Barcamp Bangalore 7

22 Sep 2008

The weekend before last, BarCamp Bangalore 7 was held. The session that I was most looking forward to was the 'cycling to work' session initiated by Pradeep B V (of MapUnity fame). What made the session interesting was that people were asked to cycle to IIMB and showcase their bicycles in an outdoor session, and encourage others to take up cycling.

The idea by Pradeep to have it in the open area outside the cafeteria just after lunch was a brilliant marketing ploy, because people would just walk out of the cafeteria and then they would see all the cycles and then out of curiosity, they would come closer and end up chatting with the cyclists. It was nice to see people hopping on and going for rides just to check out the cycles.

The stars of the show were undoubtedly Vikram and Varun because of their cycling clothes and their advanced bikes which have features such as special shoes that lock into the pedals as well as ability to unhook the wheels for easy transportation.

We had a lot of fun talking to people and answering many questions from curious Barcampers and turned out to be a successful session. Among the curious people, there was also a reporter from the Bangalore Mirror. It turns out that we ended up in an article in their Sunday edition yesterday:

Photo of the Cycling To Work page in Bangalore Mirror on 21st September, 2008 Sunday

BANGALORE MIRROR, SEPTEMBER 21, 2008, Page 9 : Rising fuel costs, never-ending traffic jams, have made travelling quite a problem in Bangalore. So it came as no surprise that young techies, who cycle to work, created a stir at Barcamp 7 in IIM last Saturday - Renuka Phadnis

The Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore was full of activity last weekend. The auditorium was the venue for an interactive session of Headstart, a group that supports entrepreneurship in the technology sector. In the corridors and break-out spaces of the management school, there were parallel discussion sessions going on of Barcamp 7. But the one group that attracted the most attention here was the one that pedals their way to work. Varun, Vikram and Swaroop, the three directors of Ion Lab, cycle to their workplace.

And when they are stuck in any of Bangalore's infamous traffic jams, the trio simply lift the bikes and walk out of the jam. Vikram used to cycle to his office in Bosch earlier and is still cycling to his new workplace. He cycles up to 50 km a day and has even pedaled to Mysore. The cycle he uses is a ‘Giant’ that has as an accessory shoes that swivel into the pedals of the cycle.

Varun has been cycling in Bangalore for six months after he got hooked on to it in the US.”A lot of people complain about the traffic but I like it,” he says. Once in a jam, he lifted the cycle and a guy in a car told him, “Dude, I am here stuck in this traffic and you are getting away?” He likes the fact that cycling keeps him fit too.

When you ask Swaroop if he does not find cycling a challenge in Bangalore, he says, -"Cycling isn't, but driving a car is!" He says it is a lot safer and easier in the city. He has been cycling from Jayanagar to Domlur for the past two years.

... (see the picture for the full article)

Factual errors aside, it is a good article and really encourages non-cyclist skeptics to consider cycling. The other upshot is that the red bicycle you see on the top of the page is mine, so if I ever want to sell it, I just have to say "As featured in the Bangalore Mirror", heh. And also, this is the first time 'Ion Lab' has been mentioned in the press.

Let's reiterate over the benefits of cycling to work:

  1. You do not need a separate time to exercise, because you're cycling to work. You save one hour everyday.
  2. Save on fuel costs, and in turn make the world less reliant on oil fuels.
  3. Reach your workplace faster. It's a myth that cycling is hard and slow and you'll be late. On an average, I used to motorbike to my (ex-) Yahoo! office in Domlur in 45 minutes, but used to take 30 minutes on cycle.
  4. Don't get stuck in traffic jams. Just lift your cycle and push it along on the sidewalk. (Please do not cycle on the sidewalk, you'll be annoying pedestrians)
  5. A good exercise before you reach your workplace will really pump up the endorphins and put you in a positive mood to get lot of work done throughout the day.
  6. And you'll be a lot healthier!

Convinced yet?

More photos from the event:

Cycling at Barcamp Bangalore 7 Cycling at Barcamp Bangalore 7 Cycling at Barcamp Bangalore 7 Cycling at Barcamp Bangalore 7 Cycling at Barcamp Bangalore 7 Cycling at Barcamp Bangalore 7 Cycling at Barcamp Bangalore 7

Comments

Harish Mallipeddi says:

I would love to do this in Singapore. But there are a few problems - Singapore roads are completely unsafe for cyclists, my office does not have a shower (I'll stink if I don't take a shower after cycling to work), and bikes usually get stolen if you leave them outside (even locked ones). But anyways great to see Bangalore techies adopting cycling!

Christian Perrier says:

OMG

Cycling in BLR...

Daily...

In that horrible struggle for life that's BLR traffic. I'm admirative. Do you have some special arrangements with ${DEITY} to be still alive? :-)

Seriously speaking, I fully support this, indeed. Congrats!

sashank says:

Its nice to encourage cycling . but there are some negative points

Cycling In Bangalore Traffic


More time you are exposed to pollution ( you are not getting healthier because you are cycling , you may lose health )
Most of the roads inside city does not have proper sidewalks , i dont know where you want to lift the cycle and go in traffic jam .


But as u say If most of them does this and it would be really good , for the pollution would be less

Anil says:

You three really cycle to Ionlab ?
Seriously guys if your thinking of some cycling adventure count me in. I have a few cyclists here in Mysore. Have planned some exciting trips, like ECR in chennai, Bang-Goa. But Of course when we consider ourself fit for such long cycling trips :P

Good luck convincing people about cycling in Bang. Guys just go out and try you will be faster than the cars

Satish says:

Dude which is the model of the cycle which gives you a detachable tyre?

Shaon Diwakar says:

Excellent to see these sorts of events encouraging cycling again in India. Cycling has been an integral mode of transport in many countries for over a hundred years (think not just India, China, Vietnam, but to this day - France, Netherlands etc.).

I used to cycle to university every day I had class here in Sydney - but only stopped when I started a consulting role and needed to travel to clients offices all over the city.

Don't forget to encourage the use of helmets whilst cycling too Swaroop! :-)

Swap says:

If the roads improve, I would love to try it here as well. Traffic isn't an issue from my home to workplace; insane bus drivers however can make it a nightmarish ride!

Swaroop says:

@Harish Why do you say that Singapore roads are unsafe for cyclists? I've seen quite a few people there on cycles...

@Christian Haha. The point is that because of the traffic, it is better to take up cycling because you'll reach the destination faster!

@Sashank I disagree with the point that you will be exposed to pollution for more time - First, you'll reach your destination usually faster and Second, the only other safer alternative is that you don't go out of your home :) But I agree with the smaller roads, then again, it's easier to squeeze through and get out of the situation.

@Anil Hehe, longer cycling adventures will still take some time, but someday for sure :) Do let me know of your adventures.

@Satish They have foreign brand cycles such as 'Giant'.

@Shaon That sounds like fun, cycling to your university :) ... Yeah, helmets are important but we mention that when the person gets into cycling, I didn't want to list it here was an 'advantage' ;-)

Harish Mallipeddi says:

Unlike Europe there are no separate bike paths in Singapore. So you've to either ride on the pavements or be brave and enter the road. Pavements usually have people and are narrow and they also have metal covers for man-holes which can be extremely slippery. Roads are busy with traffic (at least in the city area which is where I work). From my experience, the only people who seem to use bikes extensively to commute to work in Singapore are the foreign construction workers but I think they're risking it because they've no other option.

I've used bikes to commute to school in India (my commute to school was almost 8 kms!). Indian roads might be extremely crazy but other drivers on the road are always on the lookout for cyclists and two-wheelers but Singaporean drivers are not used to this.

I had a bike when I was in Sweden and it was only in Europe that I finally experienced how fun biking can be! Roads are empty, there are usually separate biker paths (and city maps come with biker paths properly indicated). Almost all places have separate spaces allocated for bikers to lock their bikes safely.

Roopa says:

Awesome guys!! Cheers to all of you!

I am in state of awe .... completely speechless right now with a big lump in my throat! But considering, I have to type and not talk ... here goes :)

Its amazing to see the lovely job you have been doing! I have always been fascinated about cycling all through my childhood and after months of contemplation, got myself a bike here in Brussels. Considering the jam packed roads of early morning traffic here as well, it does feel great to cycle to work and back.

Although I have always been in a dilemma about cycling in Bangalore, looks like you guys are making a difference in trying to bring about awareness of cycling there! I would definitely love to participate in something when I get back :)

manoj says:

guys...cool stuff...got hooked on to cycling about 2 months back..started off cycling in the weekends in the hinterlands of bangalore, graduated to cycling to work on fridays, and now it is daily :) a short commute of about 12 kms one way...and you are right about the endorphins :) keeps me pumped up all day long..the only drawback is that I head for the cafeteria in advance :)

trying to influence the management to set aside some shower rooms for folks like us...the battle goes on

let us keep the flag flying!

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